RAINBOW WARRIOR BASKETBALL
RICHARD WALKER / RWALKER@STARBULLETIN.COM
Matt Gibson of Hawaii, left, scrambled after a loose ball Sunday against Oregon State.
Rainbows take high road -- to Alaska
Following a daylong journey, the Hawaii basketball team's northern expedition began with a chilly greeting in Alaska.
"It's 13 (degrees) right now -- it's warmed up," UH coach Riley Wallace said after the Rainbow Warriors' practice yesterday in Anchorage. "It was about 4 when we got here."
Carrs/Safeway Great Alaska Shootout
At Sullivan Arena (All times Hawaii time)
» Loyola Marymount vs. Alaska-Anchorage, 6:30 p.m. (ESPN2)
» Missouri-Kansas City vs. Pacific, 8:45 p.m.
» Hawaii vs. Hofstra, 4:30 p.m.
» Marshall vs. California, 7 p.m. (ESPN2)
» Loyola Marymount/Alaska-Anchorage, loser vs. Missouri-Kansas City/Pacific loser, 11 a.m.
» Hawaii/Hofstra loser vs. Marshall/California loser, 1 p.m.
» Loyola Marymount/Alaska-Anchorage winner vs. Missouri-Kansas City/Pacific winner, 4:30 p.m. (ESPNU)
» Hawaii/Hofstra winner vs. Marshall/California winner, 7 p.m. (ESPN2)
» Seventh-place game, 11 a.m.
» Fifth-place game, 1 p.m.
» Third-place game, 5 p.m.
» Championship game, 8 p.m. (ESPN2)
The Rainbow Warriors embarked on an 11-day road trip Monday morning and will make the program's third appearance in the Carrs/Safeway Great Alaska Shootout tomorrow.
The 'Bows (2-1), coming off a 44-point win over Oregon State at home on Sunday, face Hofstra (0-2) in a first-round game at Sullivan Arena. After completing the three-day tournament, they head south for a game at Santa Clara on Nov. 29.
"We'll have five road games under our belt when we come back," Wallace said. "So we'll find out pretty much what we're made of. We're always tough at home, we haven't lost too many at home through the years. We've still got to prove we can go on the road and win. Even though it's neutral it's still the road for all of us."
The tournament begins tonight with host Alaska-Anchorage taking on Loyola Marymount and Missouri-Kansas City facing Pacific. Hawaii and Hofstra meet in the first game of tomorrow's opening-round doubleheader. California and Marshall play in the second game.
Tomorrow's winners advance to a nationally televised semifinal matchup at 7 p.m. Friday, with the losers meeting in the consolation bracket. The semifinal game will be shown on ESPN2.
The team left Honolulu on Monday morning and didn't land in Anchorage until after midnight Alaska time after having one connection delayed and another canceled.
The 'Bows practiced at Dimond High School yesterday and got a chance to get familiar with Sullivan Arena during an hourlong workout.
Hawaii had mixed results in two previous appearances in the tournament. The Rainbows finished third in the 1989 event and were blown out in all three games of the 1993 tournament, losing by an average of 42 points. They ended that season, however, by winning the Western Athletic Conference tournament.
To advance to the winner's bracket of this year's event, the Rainbows will have to slow down a Hofstra team paced by one of the nation's top backcourt combinations.
The Pride, the preseason favorite in the CAA, are led by a three-guard attack of Loren Stokes, Antoine Agudio and Carlos Rivera.
Stokes has averaged 26 points in Hofstra's first two games, while Agudio poured in 22 per game. Rivera (9.5 ppg) is the Pride's assist leader with four per game.
"They're very quick and they're very good shooters," Wallace said. "We have to come out and play like we did against Oregon State."
Duplicating a 25-0 run to start the game is probably a lot to ask, but the Rainbows are looking to maintain their intensity and build on the momentum of their 85-41 win on Sunday.
Hawaii guard Matt Lojeski moved into the team scoring lead with 18.7 points per game and is second in rebounding with 7.7 boards per game. Forward Ahmet Gueye is averaging 13.7 points and nine rebounds.
The Rainbows opened the season with a loss at UNLV, another team that countered UH's height with quickness in the backcourt. Wallace said Hofstra will present a similar look and is looking for the team to cut down on turnovers after giving the ball away 61 times in three games.
"Against good teams we have to get it to 12 or under, that's kind of the magic number," he said. "Against a team where you're really into a tight ballgame, those turnovers are going to cost you."
Hofstra's pride has taken a bit of a hit with two close road losses at Charlotte and Manhattan. The Pride went 26-7 last season and had two wins over CAA rival George Mason -- which later made a historic run to the Final Four -- and won two games in the NIT.